In the new book Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and its Legacy, edited by Nikolaos Kotsopoulos, the reader gets a full overview of the genre. The book has several introductory essays describing the history of krautrock, and its origins in the music of the post-WWII GIs.
Much is made of the dates Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention played in the '60s, much in the same way that Patti Smith's shows in London a decade later would inspire punk. You can read David Stubb's "Introduction," and would be well-versed enough to fake your way through a conversation. Each essay furthers the details surrounding the genre, tying it into such things as kosmische (or "cosmos") in Erik Davis' essay.
Michel Faber provides the best explanation of krautrock, actually -- he explains the fact that, to those of us in the United States, krautrock exists in a vacuum. We're not forced to consider bands like Faust or Soul Caravan in terms of the shitty German bands of the time:
It means we can remain blissfully unaware of the German equivalent of, say, Supertramp, REO Speedwagon, Heart, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dr Hook, Foghat, Kansas and on and on ad infinitum.
Once one gets past the overview essays, there are detailed histories of all the major players in the krautrock world. Kraftwerk and Can, of course, receives the longest entry, but space is also given to other artists, such as Amon Düül and NEU!, as well as the various labels and artists who shaped krautrock. For a person such as myself who's barely familiar, Krautrock is an invaluable addition to a music library.
The book is currently available from Black Dog Publishing. It's a little pricey at nearly $30, but the photographs alone are worth the price.